Monday, June 30, 2014

Hot and Snakey

It's been hot here, hot and still and a bit humid.  It doesn't cool down a whole lot during the night; and cool nights are one of the things I most love about living in the mountains.  Tonight we waited for the sun to drop below the ridge before doing chores.  It was still hot -- 92F.  Of course, that's better than the 108F it was at my office when I left but still... ugh.

I started mucking the donkey pasture first.  As I trudged along, pulling the muck cart, shuffling my feet in a weary slog with my head down, I noticed a branch under the oak tree.  A white branch.  Like a birch or an aspen.  My brain slowly wrapped itself around that thought and reminded me that we have grey-black oak trees here; not birch or aspen.

I walked over for a closer look.  Eek!  Snake!  ...headless snake!

No rattles...

Most likely a gopher snake.  A big one.

But what killed it?  Did the donkeys stomp on it?  And where on earth was the head?

I asked them to come over for a family conference.

They were all ears.

But not very forthcoming on details.

Brett tossed the snake in the garbage

and I starting mucking the mare's pasture.

Any theories on how the snake was killed from my readers?

Sunday, June 29, 2014

Kersey Adjusts

Well, actually, we are all adjusting to not having Sedona around.  Brett and I miss Sedona the most when we are doing barn chores.  Sedona was always close by, supervising, and trotting over to me for love; especially in the last months.  I keep waiting for her to appear at my side, lean into me, and drink up the love flowing from my fingers.

Kersey is a confused by the loss of Sedona.  Kersey was just weeks old when we brought her home to be a companion to Sedona.  She has lived all of her four years following Sedona around the property and sleeping between her front paws.  Kersey is a people dog and we think she will do well as an only dog if she is in the house and spends all her time with us.  Because Sedona wasn't happy in the house, and because we didn't want to separate the dogs, they were outside or in the barn all the time.  Kersey is adjusting well to life in the house.  She was crate trained as a puppy and she still loves her crate.  She has been keeping Brett company during the day while I am at work, and keeping us both company on the weekend.

When we are all in the house, we are happy.  Its novel and Kersey is busy learning the house rules; where she can and cannot sleep.  She is a fast study and has mastered the duties of house-dog-dom well.

But, when we go outside its different; hard.  Kersey looks for Sedona in the barn and in their favorite haunts. She sits in front of the barn looking forlorn.

I know we will all adjust but life is somber at Oak Creek Ranch.  Sedona left large paw prints to fill.

Thursday, June 26, 2014

Bon Voyage Sedona

I have had purebred animals and rescue animals, and my favorites have been rescues.  Purebreds are beautiful and if you are into breed competitions, well, you have to go that route.  But for all around ranch animals you can't beat a rescue dog.  In my experience they are hardy and healthy, maybe from surviving on the street.  They also bring a happiness, a love of life, and a devotion that can't be surpassed.  Sedona was all those things.

When Brett and I were first married in 2000, and living in the suburbs, we had a Weimeraner.  She was a beautiful dog, very sweet, but not healthy.  We lost her when she was only two years old, just after we moved into our home at Aspen Meadows.  Brett was devastated.  I started campaigning for a new dog almost immediately but Brett said he just wasn't ready.   A few months later, on my birthday, he called me at work.  This was before he retired from the city police department.  He called to tell me that animal control had picked up a yellow dog.  He suggested I come over to the PD on my lunch and take a look.  Sure enough, there was a yellow dog, about knee high, tied with a long rope to a post by the back parking lot.  She was found roaming the city streets with a threadbare and dirty collar. No tags. When the dog saw me, it squeaked like a tea kettle and dropped to the ground, rolling onto her back in submission.  I spoke to her softly and she showered me with affection, sitting on my feet and continuing with the tea kettle squeaking.  It was my birthday and she was a wonderful gift.

After she was neutered and ready to be released to us, I took her into our vet for a check up.  I was told that she was about eight months old and most likely a mix of kuvasz (say what?) and something else.  I was warned that she would be large.  No kidding.  Sedona grew and grew and grew.  Kuvasz are Hungarian wolfhounds and huge.  We think she also had some German shephard in the mix. 

She never stopped squeaking when she was excited and she always sat on my feet.  She would also wrap her paw around my legs in a hug. 

Sedona was close to twelve years old when we lost her today.  She was my favorite dog ever.  EVER.

She loved Kyle and Camille and kept watch over them when they were small.

She loved the snow.  She would walk through a creek full of freezing water on a snowy day and not flinch.

She loved Kersey.

She loved chasing squirrels, birds and the cat.  She was a working dog and she took her job of policing the property seriously.

Even at the end, when she couldn't walk and wouldn't eat, she had her head up watching her property.

She was very, sweet and welcoming with friends and family.

She was a ranch dog through and through.  She tolerated being in the house but she much preferred to be outside; particularly when it was cold.

It was hard to let her go this afternoon but it was time.  We cradled and caressed her as she peacefully slipped away.  Godspeed Sedona.

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

No Lesson Today

Brett was up at 5:00 this morning to feed Lucy before hauling down to PEC for my 8:00 lesson.  I dozed until 5:30, then got up and made myself some breakfast, packed my work clothes and put on my makeup -- not much, just a bit of eye shadow and mascara.  I fetched Lucy from the pasture, groomed and loaded her in the trailer.  Pistol watched from the pasture and started screaming the minute she saw Lucy in the trailer.

Where are you going?  Where are you taking Lucy?  You forgot me!

I pulled my little car out of the garage and followed Brett down the driveway at 6:25.  Pistol went airborne along the fenceline; bucking and launching herself in the air while screaming at us.  Lucy called back a few times and then we were down the road, out of sight.

We pulled into PEC and parked at 7:30.  I unloaded Lucy without incident and tacked her up.  We walked over to Sandy's barn which was quiet; no groom, no Sandy.  Hmmm.  I checked the white board which had student names and lesson times.  My name wasn't there.  Worried double hmmm.  I decided to warm up Lucy while waiting for Sandy to arrive even though it wasn't yet 8:00.

At 8:10 Brett sent Sandy a text asking if the lesson was on.  Meanwhile, I kept working Lucy.

Canter, counter-canter, leg yield, haunches in, short strides, extended strides: you name it, if we knew how to do it, we did.

At 8:30 we called it quits.  I had been riding for almost 45 minutes and needed to hightail it into work. Sandy called me on my cell as we were walking back to the trailer.  Her groom, who kept her schedule on track, stopped working for Sandy last week.  And, I really should have sent a reminder text last night.  We rescheduled for next week and I did get a nice ride on Lucy.  I just wish Sandy could have seen us.

I changed into my work clothes in the horse trailer tack room, sweating like a pig.  I downed a bottle of water on my way into work and walked into my office with a layer of grime on top of my make up.  Okay, you couldn't see it, but that's how it felt.  I have a sample spritzer of perfume in my office -- I hope it covered up the smell of horse.

Meanwhile, Brett hauled Lucy back home.  Pistol was waiting and as soon as she saw the trailer, she started up screaming and racing around.  Brett parked, lowered Lucy's trailer window, and Lucy crammed as much of her body as she could out of the window and called back to Pistol; "I'm home!  They didn't sell me!  I get to stay here!"  Brett was afraid Lucy would be prancy and pushy when he unloaded her, but she stood still until he was ready to lead her out and then walked out calmly.

I'm calling it a successful day.

Monday, June 23, 2014

Lucy Keeps Her Cool

Sunday morning, Brett and I rode at 6am to beat the heat. Lucy and I headed up to the dressage court while Brett and Mufasa worked in the small arena. As I was stepping up on the mounting block to get on Lucy, Tuffy ran up to the fence corner bucking and snorting, with his ears flying behind him. He slid to a stop and Lucy looked over at him. Oh, you. The wanna be dressage donkey. That looked more like reining than dressage dude.

Lucy and I walked into the arena and started our warm-up. Tuffy was joined by Finessa in an early morning romp. The two donkeys ran around the oak tree, bucked, with a ka-thunk as Finessa's hind feet made contact with Tuffy's chest, then a race down the pasture, through the dry pond, over the dry creek bed and back to the oak tree. Lucy tossed her head. C'mon, let's do that!

In the midst of the donkey antics, I noticed a neighbor walking down the dirt road behind our property with his two dogs. Kersey and Sedona take dogs walking near the property line very seriously. Sedona came at a dead run from the barn, entered at A and loped down centerline -- right past Lucy and I who were trying to do a leg yield to the rail. Meanwhile Kersey, ran up the side of the court under the trees and then both dogs started barking at the neighbor's dogs. It could have been a disaster but it wasn't. Lucy was distracted but kept on working.

After a very excellent session in the dressage court, I walked her around the perimeter to cool down.  Then I asked her to cross the dry stream bed and walk under the oaks and pines that form a park-like area between the court and the fenceline and road. She stopped at the embankment in confusion. You want me to go down there? Yes Lucy, go down and over and back up the other side of the creek bed. She lowered her head, took a good look and then a cautious step. I praised her and she kept going. We circled around a big oak and walked, with Lucy's head popping up in alarm every few step, back the towards the oak pasture. She stopped and leaned away from a pile of pine branches, then walked past it suspiciously. Just past the branches, we squeezed through two pine trees and the branches swished and scratched across my helmet. She twitched. Silly Lucy. She needs some more practice with crowding bushes and low hanging branches before she's trail ready. But I do think she will get there one of these days.

Sunday, June 22, 2014

Camille Comes to Visit

...and she brought friends!  Our little house was full -- the bedrooms taken, the mudroom strewn with shoes, and the refrigerator bulging with food.  It was great.

Friday evening the girls wanted to ride.  You've already seen pictures of Camille riding then so I won't repeat those photos.  The girls fetched Pistol from the pasture while I kept Lucy at a distance before following them over to the tie rail.  They had tried to visit Pistol earlier and Lucy would have none of it.  With Lucy, its all about her.  All the attention, all the cookies and all the food.  She does share their hay with Pistol after taking the first few bites all by her princess self.

While the girls groomed Pistol, Lucy and I were trying on new clothes.  One of the straps on Lucy's fly sheet tore off the other day so ordered her a new one.

She approved of the color and fit.  She was content to stand at the tie rail in her finery while Brett and I helped the girls get Pistol tacked up.  Camille even picked all four of Pistol's feet.  When Camille was small, she was scared to pick feet -- particularly the hind ones.  She's twenty now and Pistol is a laid back 18 so it was time for Camille to get over that.  She took a deep breath and cautiously picked up Pistol's feet.

Once Pistol was tacked up the girls headed into the small arena.  I threw on Lucy's saddle and bridle and followed them over.

Camille's friends do not have much riding experience; I think just rental trail horses.  They were fast learners but initially not very adept at steering.

Pistol tried to follow Lucy which was not something Lucy and I wanted.  So, we were banished.  We left the arena and rode up to the dressage court.

Lucy was jumpy and snorty as we passed by the back of the barn and turned past the donkeys.  She jumped again when we passed the chickens.  She walks past the chickens in her sleep when I'm leading her -- they must look different when I'm on her back.  But she never balked, just walked cautiously up to the dressage court.  We did a little bit of trot, a little bit of canter, and then walked back to the barn.  It was too dang hot to do anything else.

While the girls finished riding Pistol, Lucy and I did a few laps around the barn.  Camille called over to me that she was going to get on Pistol again and that she wanted me to watch her lope.  Pistol had offered the lope on her last turn and Camille was thrilled.  I had, obviously mistakenly, informed her that Pistol was out of shape and wouldn't be able to lope more than a few strides.

Friday, June 20, 2014

A Girl and Her Horse

Camille is up visiting for a few days with a couple of her friends.  This evening they fussed over Pistol and then rode.

Camille and Pistol hit it off big time.



and lope.

They had a blast.  Camille wants to come back up and go with Brett on a trail ride.  Camille is thrilled to have a horse to ride and Pistol is thrilled to have (another) girl to love and fuss over her.  A horse can never have too many girls.